Psychological Medicine

Morphometry in schizophrenia revisited: height and its relationship to pre-morbid function

P. NOPOULOS a1c1, M. FLAUM a1, S. ARNDT a1 and N. ANDREASEN a1
a1 From the Mental Health Clinical Research Center, Department of Psychiatry and Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, University of Iowa College of Medicine, Iowa, USA


Background. Morphometry, the measurement of forms, is an ancient practice. In particular, schizophrenic somatology was popular early in this century, but has been essentially absent from the literature for over 30 years. More recently, evidence has grown to support the notion that aberrant neurodevelopment may play a role in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. Is the body, like the brain, affected by abnormal development in these patients?

Methods. To evaluate global deficit in development and its relationship to pre-morbid function, height was compared in a large group (N=226) of male schizophrenics and a group of healthy male controls (N=142) equivalent in parental socio-economic status. Patients in the lower quartile of height were compared to those in the upper quartile of height.

Results. The patient group had a mean height of 177·1 cm, which was significantly shorter than the mean height of the control group of 179·4 (P<0·003). Those in the lower quartile had significantly poorer pre-morbid function as measured by: (1) psychosocial adjustment using the pre-morbid adjustment scales for childhood and adolescence/young adulthood, and (2) cognitive function using measures of school performance such as grades and need for special education. In addition, these measures of pre-morbid function correlated significantly with height when analysed using the entire sample.

Conclusions. These findings provide further support to the idea that abnormal development may play a key role in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. Furthermore, this is manifested as a global deficit in growth and function resulting in smaller stature, poorer social skills, and deficits in cognitive abilities.

c1 Address for correspondence: Dr Peg Nopoulos, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Department of Psychiatry, 2887 JPP, 200 Hawkins Drive, Iowa City, Iowa 52242, USA.